It happens at unit desks, in hallways, in the classroom, and even around the boardroom table -- storytelling is built into our healthcare culture. Stories are a tremendous part of nursing education and learning. Stories are even an evidence-based way to help people remember and connect with important information.
If you can connect emotionally with one person, or thousands of people, via a story, they will remember it better than any boring statistic.
The more time I spend one-on-one with other nurses, listening to them, the more I am impressed to share my own stories. While my nursing career has been relatively short in comparison to other colleagues, I have experienced my fair share of “I can’t believe that,” “Well, I’ve never seen that before,” “It’s not supposed to happen that way,” “Wow, this is amazing,” “I never want to go through that again,” “That went much better than I thought it would,” and “What the...?” moments.
I’m realizing the stories I listened to from my mentors and teachers prepared me for, and validated me, in those moments. My stories are doing the same for others.
Each of our stories are important. We all want to know we’re not alone in the current plot. Someone has lived the same sentence. Someone has seen the same question mark. Someone has exasperated the double exclamation points, too.
I am so thankful the nurses around me shared their stories after I passed out during my first clinical nursing rotation (I found out very quickly that wound care -- especially amputations -- was not for me!), when I made my first medication error, when I advocated toe-to-toe with a not-so-pleasant provider, when my first patient died, when my first patient was cured, when I felt like I had no clue what I was doing in my role, when grant after grant was declined, and on and on and on. The good, the bad, the ugly -- it’s nice to know we are walking the same path.
It’s encouraging. But you must share your story in order for it to be so.
It might be painful. It might be embarrassing. It might be funny. It might be inspiring. One thing is for sure -- your story is important to nursing. Share it.
How do you see storytelling in your daily work? How would one of your unique nursing stories impact others?